Liberty fights for fair trials at supreme court

Posted on 23 Nov 2020

The right to a fair trial is not something Governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship.

  • Principle of fair trial at stake in Shamima Begum case, Liberty argues
  • Human rights groups say Home Office approach sets dangerous precedent
  • Citizen-stripping scapegoats is not justice says Liberty lawyer

Liberty is intervening before the Supreme Court today to uphold the right to a fair hearing in the Government’s ongoing fight to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship.

Today, 23 November, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge from the Home Office against a Court of Appeal decision that Shamima Begum must be given a fair chance to challenge the Government’s decision.

Liberty intervened in the Court of Appeal case in June. In the two-day hearing this week, the human rights organisation is again calling for the right to a fair trial to be upheld in the use of extreme Government powers like citizenship-stripping.

Citizenship-stripping is among the most extreme powers available to Government, Liberty says. Making someone stateless is against international law but the Government has justified using it against Shamima Begum because, they say, she is eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.

Use of these powers has created an inconsistent, discriminatory tiered system of punishment, which leads to the Government stripping people who have non-British heritage of their citizenship, Liberty says.

Liberty lawyer Rosie Brighouse said: “The right to a fair trial is not something democratic Governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship. If a Government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair trial it would set an extremely dangerous precedent.

“Banishing Government scapegoats isn’t justice, it’s a cynical distraction from a failed counter-terror strategy.”

Liberty says that stripping away someone’s citizenship is not only excessive, it also exposes people to severe human rights violations. The Government has sharply increased the use of this draconian power in recent years, meaning that due process in these cases is more important than ever, Liberty says.

Contact the Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 / 07973 831 128 or

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